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FlightSimX --> 5 or more monitors

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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May 21, 2012 10:15:12 PM

For a non-profit public display and flight training situation, I've created a Flight Sim X monster.

It works well, but getting video cards is nearly impossible, and I'm going to want to build 5 or more of these.

The idea is to reproduce true-peripheral-vision while flying this simulator. It helps student pilots adjust their airport approach pattern as they would while flying, by simply turning their head. The cost is important, but not the major issue. A realistic experience IS! I'll spend the money, as long as the result is good.

===== P R O T O T Y P E ======

My prototype is running Windows 7 Professional, 64 bit, Flight Simulator X (fully patched) with 2 NVIDIA Geforce GTX 680's in SLI mode (Center 3 Monitors) with a 3rd Geforce GTX 560 Ti running 2 monitors to either side of the SLI trio.
They drive 5 - ASUS VE278 - 27" monitors. I will be looking at projected-images and other monitor solutions in the future. But for now, I will stay with my 27" monitor setup.
The ASUS motherboard has 3 PCIe x16 slots to accomodate the cards. For better cooling, I'll want to go water cooled in the next version. 16 Gig of DDR3 QUAD CHANNEL RAM serves the Intel i7-3960X CPU mounted in a LGA2011 socket. The The Solid State Corsair 90 GB drive seems fast and effective. A Corsair tower holds, and a 1200 watt PSU powers, the whole thing. A Saitek x52 Pro joystick and throttle are the only input besides the keyboard and mouse.

=======================

This setup requires the two outboard monitors to be adjusted to match up with the center 3 when Flight Sim X is booted and run.
I'd like to avoid this in the final version.

It has been said that Flight SimX is CPU intensive.
Is there another more cost effective yet still-powerful solution?
How will Radeon cards hold up versus the NVIDIA cards?
If so, how many Radeon cards will I need to power 5 or more monitors?
I understand I'll have to use their eyefinity multi-screen technology.

More about : flightsimx monitors

a b U Graphics card
May 21, 2012 10:38:06 PM

This single card will drive six monitors. It works best with display port, but it seems the monitors you list support display port. Since its a single card you won't need any water cooling.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I'm not sure about performance with flight simulator X.
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May 21, 2012 11:02:26 PM

What about duel GTX 690's? That supports up to 8 screens yes?
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Related resources
May 21, 2012 11:21:28 PM

I see from nvidia's site that 680s can support 4 monitors max, even when in sli. That explains your third card.

AMD's site says the 7970 can support up to 6 monitors. I think dual 7970 would fit you perfectly.
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May 21, 2012 11:48:41 PM

erunion said:
I see from nvidia's site that 680s can support 4 monitors max, even when in sli. That explains your third card.

AMD's site says the 7970 can support up to 6 monitors. I think dual 7970 would fit you perfectly.



I want to thank all of you for responding.

I'll look into the 7970's. The new GTX 690's was my first choice, but they seem rare as hens teeth. I suppose even the 7970 will be a rare item as well. I am interested in trying the AMD products.

For anyone elses reference, the 3 video cards together on the motherboard restricts airflow to the center and top most card. The center card on the prototype is getting flakey! Yikes. Hence my water cooled video card reference. I'm not overclocking these machines. But I do want them to stay cool. I counted 9 fans in this machine, including the ones in the video cards.
I hope for these machines to last 2 to 4 years as enticement devices at an Air Museum. We want to encourage young people to get interested in being pilots.

Any other suggestions are welcome.

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May 22, 2012 1:20:36 AM

aaab said:
What about duel GTX 690's? That supports up to 8 screens yes?


No. Still just 4.
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a c 179 U Graphics card
a c 77 C Monitor
May 22, 2012 1:22:02 AM

*The GTX690 supports THREE MONITORS with the game but the fourth has to be a non-gaming screen. It's also a poor choice because it only has 2GB per GPU which is insufficient for 3+ screens in general.

Having two GTX690's does not change this.

EYEFINITY 6:
http://www.asus.com/Graphics_Cards/AMD_Series/HD7970DC2...

This is the only solution which I've seen that might work.

*I'm not sure that 2xHD7970 with normal HD7970's work. you might need a special card like the one above with the proper outputs.

I'm also not sure if there's sufficient GPU power and Video RAM but this is where I'd start. Maybe you could hookup TWO of these if they fit (3-slots).
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a c 179 U Graphics card
a c 77 C Monitor
May 22, 2012 1:23:09 AM

DisplayPort:
You'll also need some Displayport monitors and/or active adapters.
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a c 179 U Graphics card
a c 77 C Monitor
May 22, 2012 3:03:09 AM

FSX on 5 monitors video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ll377_3c-3k

(I still think that Asus special Eyefinity 6 HD7970 also linked by someone else above is your best bet. I think it's probably good enough on its own.)
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October 27, 2012 1:39:51 AM

I am also looking to install 3 gtx680 but the desired configuration is different as follows:
Gtx1 - 3 units of projector 1280 x1024 in spanned mode (HUD view)
Gtx2 - 3 units of open frame monitors (centre pcs is a touch screen) for LDDI, ufcd and RDDI each 1280 x1024
Gtx3 - 2 units of open frame for efd and mpcd
The last port is connected to a HUD 1280x1024

Initially I was looking to replace my current single unit of gtx680 (with matrox th2go dvi edition) with an eyefinity 7870 hd that supports 6 mini dp ports.

Now that you have confirmed that msfsx does recognize 3 graphics cards (gtx680), can I check with you if my desired setup is achievable ?

My pc is i7 win 7 pro 64 bit .
Thanks very much for your post.
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October 29, 2012 2:25:03 PM

JackyBek, thanks for writing.

I now have 2 compters running 5 monitors! :sol:  They are located at the Palm Springs Air Museum in California. The public is encouraged to use them. One is located upstairs in the Library, and the other is in the Ken Miles Educational classroom in the B-52 hangar.

Aerobatics with an F-18 fighter is outstanding! The entire world spins without flicker or lag. It took a while finding a good balance with the graphics slider bars.

The recipe I now use is a Motherboard capable of at least 2 PCI Express x16 Slots. This is important to get the most out of the Nvidia cards.
I'm running a minimum of 12 Gig or RAM and a top-notch Intel i7 CPU.
I decided upon a Swiftech water cooling solution. Both computers have the '3 fan' version radiator with the built-in water-pump. I have the CPU and the main Nvidia video card being cooled (Center 3 screens). The 2nd Nvidia card is left as an air-cooled solution. I may add water-cooling to it in the future as well. Time was an issue so I left them as air-cooled. I could only locate the air-cooled version.

Here are the video cards used:

(Nvidia) EVGA GeForce GTX 690 Hydro Copper Signature (water-cooled)
(Nvidia) EVGA GeForce GTX 590 (air-cooled)

The GTX 690 runs the center 3 screens as a single screen.
The GTX 590 runs the outer 2 screens as independent units.

As far as I can tell, Microsoft Flight Simulator X only recognizes 3 video cards at a time.
With the GTX 690 running the center 3 screens as a single unit, FSX only sees 1 screen.
Then I can run the 2 outer screens on the GTX 590. FSX sees 2 GTX 590 video cards when running these 2 screens.

This appears to be the maximum number of video cards that can be run using this hardware setup (unless I can get more creative).
I think FSX has many bugs when running this many screens (3 virtual video cards). I do not think many people have used FSX in this way.

If you make too many changes at once, or change planes later on, or fly for a long time and then try slewing, or change locations often, the graphics system develops serious flaws. For instance, the program can lock-up, airports can float in the sky, buildings at an airport are only visible on one or two screens but not the others, and aircraft can disappear showing only landing gear and a shadow, or nothing at all.

To minimize these visual defects from occurring regularly, shut the FSX program down and properly reboot the computer.
This will ensure a relatively stable flight environment for each user.
A soft-boot can be done in-between users as well.
It is also suggested to shut the machine off when not in use for hours, or days at a time.
These computers are skittish thoroughbreds, not plow horses. They need some TLC.
I recommend:
Fresh computer starts, with setup occurring only at the beginning of a session, and then leaving the settings alone during a session. This will go a long way in keeping the system stable under hours of use.

One last note:
I'm using Deep Freeze to keep the basic graphics settings LOCKED. If graphics REALLY get messed up, a simple reboot puts it all back in order.

I hope this is of help.
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October 29, 2012 3:47:02 PM

FlightSimX said:
JackyBek, thanks for writing.

I now have 2 compters running 5 monitors! :sol:  They are located at the Palm Springs Air Museum in California. The public is encouraged to use them. One is located upstairs in the Library, and the other is in the Ken Miles Educational classroom in the B-52 hangar.

Aerobatics with an F-18 fighter is outstanding! The entire world spins without flicker or lag. It took a while finding a good balance with the graphics slider bars.

The recipe I now use is a Motherboard capable of at least 2 PCI Express x16 Slots. This is important to get the most out of the Nvidia cards.
I'm running a minimum of 12 Gig or RAM and a top-notch Intel i7 CPU.
I decided upon a Swiftech water cooling solution. Both computers have the '3 fan' version radiator with the built-in water-pump. I have the CPU and the main Nvidia video card being cooled (Center 3 screens). The 2nd Nvidia card is left as an air-cooled solution. I may add water-cooling to it in the future as well. Time was an issue so I left them as air-cooled. I could only locate the air-cooled version.

Here are the video cards used:

(Nvidia) EVGA GeForce GTX 690 Hydro Copper Signature (water-cooled)
(Nvidia) EVGA GeForce GTX 590 (air-cooled)

:o  [jacky] how many gtx 590 ? 1 unit or 2 units?

The GTX 690 runs the center 3 screens as a single screen.
The GTX 590 runs the outer 2 screens as independent units.

:o  [jacky] sounds like there are 2 units of gtx590. unit 1 runs outer screen 1, unit 2 units outer screen 2.

As far as I can tell, Microsoft Flight Simulator X only recognizes 3 video cards at a time.
With the GTX 690 running the center 3 screens as a single unit, FSX only sees 1 screen.
Then I can run the 2 outer screens on the GTX 590. FSX sees 2 GTX 590 video cards when running these 2 screens.

:o  [jacky] your statement in the above shows that there are 2 units of gtx590 in action. Are these 2 screens extending the spanned view of the 690 view?
can i configure such that these 2 screens to show other custom defined panels eg lddi

This appears to be the maximum number of video cards that can be run using this hardware setup (unless I can get more creative).
I think FSX has many bugs when running this many screens (3 virtual video cards). I do not think many people have used FSX in this way.

:o  [jacky] why does fsx sees '3 virtual video card'? i can understand the first virtual video card as the one driving the centre view with 3 physical monitors.
how about the other '2 virtual video cards'? is is shown as a video display in win7 monitor setup as LEFT & RIGHT monitors? only that instead of 2 physical video cards driving each displays, you only have 1 physical video card driving 2 virtual display? right?

If you make too many changes at once, or change planes later on, or fly for a long time and then try slewing, or change locations often, the graphics system develops serious flaws. For instance, the program can lock-up, airports can float in the sky, buildings at an airport are only visible on one or two screens but not the others, and aircraft can disappear showing only landing gear and a shadow, or nothing at all.

To minimize these visual defects from occurring regularly, shut the FSX program down and properly reboot the computer.
This will ensure a relatively stable flight environment for each user.
A soft-boot can be done in-between users as well.
It is also suggested to shut the machine off when not in use for hours, or days at a time.
These computers are skittish thoroughbreds, not plow horses. They need some TLC.
I recommend:
Fresh computer starts, with setup occurring only at the beginning of a session, and then leaving the settings alone during a session. This will go a long way in keeping the system stable under hours of use.

One last note:g
I'm using Deep Freeze to keep the basic graphics settings LOCKED. If graphics REALLY get messed up, a simple reboot puts it all back in order.

I hope this is of help.


:o  [jacky] could the problems you are experiencing due to different graphics model?
i intend to use 3 x gtx 680 for my setup (hopefully reducing the complexity faced by ms fsx)

what do you think about the feasibility of my intended setup of 3 gtx680 driving 9 displays?
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a c 291 U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
October 29, 2012 4:03:48 PM

Looks interesting. You say you're not overclocking the CPU, yet you're getting i7-3960X. May I suggest switching to i7-3960K (which is half the price), and overclock it instead? That way you'll get around 20% more performance for reduced cost.

P. S. You can overclock i7-3960X too, but i7-3960K is as most as fast and is MUCH cheaper.
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October 29, 2012 4:20:51 PM

I don't know how deep your pockets are, or whatever foundation you're working with, but the ATI/AMD FireGL W9000 supports 6 display ports natively at greater than true HD resolution. It's also CrossfirePro compatible (2 cards only), as well as being DirectX friendly. Unheard of in a workstation graphics card.
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October 29, 2012 10:18:36 PM

hi james
thanks for your sugestion on the ati card.
in fact my other option is to replace my current unit
of gtx680 with a ati 7970 and install a second 7970.
this gives me a total of 12 mini display ports which, in theory should
meet my needs of a 9 monitor setup.
however, i search the web for anyone
whom has attempted to set up such a config
but to no avail. i only found this discussion thread that
uses the same gtx card, matrox card and win7.
even the mobo is of the same manufacturer.
hence i thought it would be a better bet to pursue this option,
unless there is someone out there who has successfully
install 2 ati that achieved my desired config.
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!